Angry Water. Showing Emotion.

On Christmas Eve 2015, I went downtown to check out the results of days of rain. The Chattahoochee River was angry to say the least.

I had never seen the river so high and fast, and it was accompanied with intense clouds as well. I was shooting a variety of shots and playing with shutter speeds and manual settings. I spent a good bit of time experimenting with different buttons and settings.

The original shot below is one of my attempts…at what I can’t really recall exactly though. Clearly, it turned out very dark, darker than reality. Instead of throwing it out though, I thought I’d do some editing for this week’s After Before Friday Forum.

B4 MLunato

The first thing I needed to do was to brighten the scene obviously. I did this in RAW to start with. In the screen shot below, you can see the adjustments I made. I had to slide the brightness and exposure levers to the right a lot. I also changed the white balance to daylight.

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 6.15.34 AM

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 6.17.12 AM

I didn’t want to brighten it so much that I lost the details of the clouds though. So, I left it a tad darker than my desired end-state.

After opening the brighter version in Photoshop CS5, I immediately made a copy of the photo. Now, I had two layers of the photo that I just edited in Raw. In one layer, I raised the curves to a point where the water was where I wanted it. This makes the sky lost though. So, in that layer, I merely deleted/erased out the sky. This allowed the other layer of the photo to show it’s darker and more visible sky.

The first shot below is when I raised the curves to highlight the water.

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 6.17.26 AM

The second is for highlighting the clouds, which I tried to make very dramatic, well more dramatic than they already were.Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 6.18.35 AM


Once I tweaked each piece of the layers, and erased out the pieces I didn’t want, I merged them together. Once together, I did some minor adjustments on brightness and contrast and color.

This is the end result, which is certainly more usable than the original, non-edited look.

After MLunato

What would you have tried? Liked? Didn’t like? Feel free to comment, I do like getting feedback from others on their perspective. I find it a great way to learn. So, it doesn’t have to all be positive feedback either. You can certainly point on some easier ways to do things, or maybe something you think would look better.

Make sure you check out Ben post today too. As the host of the After Before Friday Forum, he shows his own great before and after shots as well as the shots and links to other bloggers playing along in the group as well.

To join in on the fun, click on the badge below for the After Before Friday Forum guidelines.



6 thoughts on “Angry Water. Showing Emotion.

    1. Thanks. This is great practice for my editing skills to be able to layout and explain what I have done. Sometimes I would just do things and play and then go…um, how did I do that? You like the original? I just figured everyone would think it was too dark. I have others that were too bright. I was really trying a lot that day and all over the board.


      1. That’s the same thing that happens to me. How the hell did I do that!? 😀 I like dark scenes, cause they are moody and they make me wonder what’s in the shadows, but your edits were a great improvement on the scene, no question about that.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. It was amazing, and a bit scary, to see the river so intense. Thank goodness for shooting in RAW. I am sure a JPEG version would not have let me pull out so many details. I took a ton of pictures that day while I experimented.


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